What are Relationships?



What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, all the rest are not only useless but disastrous…. The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly, themselves, and not to twist them to fit our image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Thomas Merton. 

I am the relationship I have been waiting for. [And]… the only distance between me and another person is the distance I have from myself.
Richard Moss


If two people met, and there is any sort of reaction, both will be transformed.
Carl Jung 

You can go to the far side of the moon and back and see nothing more strange and wonderful than the relationships between men and women.
John Updike

In which general connection, T.S. Eliot once wrote:

But let me tell you
To approach a stranger
Is to invite the unexpected,
Release a new force.
Or let the genie out of the bottle.
It is to start a chain of events
Beyond your control.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw anyone out.
Audrey Hepburn 

Intimacy is a difficult art.
Virginia Woolf

Relationship is an art … where each is responsible for their own half and the garbage that is within that ….If you try to clean the other’s garbage you may get a broken nose, so we have to learn not to put our nose where no one wants it.
Miguel Ruiz

The basis for any long-term relationship is love as revealed by forgiveness.
David Whyte, poet.

He who cannot forgive, destroys the bridge over which he may, one day, need to pass.

Be kind ~ everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
John Watson 

We should be careful of each other, we should be kind while there is still time.
Philip Larkin

The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.
Henry David Thoreau 

 If your everyday practice is to open to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that — then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has every taught…
Pema Chodron

Understanding of the self only arises in relationship, in watching yourself in relationship to people, ideas and things; to trees, the earth, and the world around you and within you. Relationship is the mirror in which the self is revealed. Without self-knowledge there is no basis for right thought and action.

The search for security is an illusion … it does not mean returning into the woods, or to a monastery, or isolating oneself in some peculiar belief…. [Because] … nothing can exist in isolation. To be is to be related; it is only in the midst of relationship that we can spontaneously discover ourselves as we are.

If you can look in the mirror of relationship exactly as you look into an ordinary mirror then there is no end to self-knowledge ….Then there is no end to the journey, and that is the mystery, the beauty of it.

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another.
Jack Kornfield.

Touch is the vehicle through which we comfort one another and are comforted, via hugs or clasps of the hand.
Howard Cutler.

Friendship is the journey of souls who join hands in the celebration of each other’s lives…. True friendship paints the world with colours that never fade.
Tree Of Life greeting card

Put all that you are into the least that you do because the greatest gift that you can give another is the gift of your whole self. So don’t hold back because wouldn’t it be lovely if people could come in on the wave of trust fully into the shores of each other’s life.
John O’Donohue

An intimate relationship goes beyond an implicit capacity for connectness; in intimacy we explicitly share our deep natures with each other in the belief that we can be fully known and the trust that we will be fully accepted.
Parker J. Palmer

In The Gift of Change, Spiritual Guidance For Living Your Best life. (Harper SanFrancisco, 2004), Marianne Williamson wrote:

Every relationship is a teaching-learning assignment. Anyone we are destined to meet, we will. We are drawn to each other for teaching and learning, as each of us is presented with the chance to learn the next lesson in the journey of our soul. Every encounter is a holy encounter if we use it to demonstrate love. And every encounter is a set up for possible pain if we are not open to the opportunity to do that. Anyone we meet we were destined to meet, but what we do with the relationship is entirely up to us.

Sometimes someone is brought into our life to help us learn a lesson we’ve failed to learn before…. [So] … there is no point trying to go to Outer Mongolia to escape your issues; they will find you there because they live inside your head. The people you need will be brought to you; you will subconsciously attract them; there is no escaping the curriculum of the Holy Spirit.

In The Healing Of Emotion, Awakening The Fearless Self (Simon and Shuster, New York, 1984) Chris Griscom wrote:

As long as we are determined by these feelings … [of loneliness, emptiness, insecurity and mourning] … we will not be capable of merging with another person to such a degree that a symbiotic relationship can emerge. The longing to merge completely with another out of loneliness almost always leads to the energy merely flowing from one partner to another and not to a true mutual exchange on a similar or compatible plane of energy. 

As long as we believe we need another person (or thing, cause, organization, mission, or task) in order to become whole ourselves, we will inevitably keep getting lost in ghost towns of feelings, thoughts, and projections. We then count on the outside world, on having forces other than our own, abilities and authorities outside ourselves, to help us survive, grow and become fulfilled. Thereby we give ourselves away — and end up empty-handed.

Until we experience that the whole universe exists within us, that we are always and forever connected to everything that is, both the manifest and unmanifest world, we will not be able to join the cosmic giggle and find peace in our lives. Our fear of being alone, as a consequence of the thrust of life into conception, has led us to a tragic misconception — that we must fight to survive. If we succeed in awakening universal consciousness, we will know unequivocally that survival is the divine plan of the cosmos; energy is never lost, it simply transmutes, and reshapes itself to contribute to the magnificent dance of evolution. We, ourselves, are the stars of evolution!

Footnote: See The Book Of Alan Watts for his views, as an ordained Anglican Minister, on relationship in marriage.